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Growing Reader

Brain Games: How Play Makes for More Effective Learning

by Mrs Wordsmith

These past few years of the Covid-19 pandemic have made learning challenging for many students. Learning and development have been interrupted and disrupted for millions, thanks in part to the sudden shift to online learning. Indeed, educators have found that distractions at home have affected their students’ ability to focus, and isolated learning environments have led to a lack of motivation. Children have to want to learn, and without an engaging atmosphere to hold their attention, that can be a struggle.

Because of this, many parents and educators are seeking supplemental resources to combat learning loss and new ways to engage kids in learning. Thankfully, we at Mrs. Wordsmith understand that for a generation accustomed to fast-paced, bite-sized content at their fingertips, one of the best ways to help today’s kids learn is through play.

Think of it like this. Have you ever offered your child a zucchini brownie but didn’t mention the zucchini part? Game-based learning can feel similar: kids are learning, and they don’t even know it. Gamification helps learners truly engage with content and forget that they are “working.” And the benefits are considerable since gamification is one of the most effective ways to increase learner engagement, retention, and recall.

So what makes game-based learning such an effective teaching tool? As an award-winning kids’ literacy company, we have a few insights to share.

It Makes ‘Em Laugh

Think back to a memory from childhood. Where were you? What were you doing? Were you relaxed, thrilled, scared, or delighted with laughter? So many of our most logged memories tie back to moments of joy, play, and laughter. That’s because when something is fun or funny, it’s much more memorable.

A study led by Neuroscientist Roy Wise uncovered that humor activates the same pleasure chemical and reward system – dopamine – as eating chocolate or winning a competition. Moreover, this pleasure chemical is a crucial factor in motivation and long-term habit formation since we’re more motivated to repeat actions that feel good, and repetition links to deep learning.

It’s Relatable

Have you ever watched your child effortlessly recite lines from their favorite cartoon, but go blank when you asked what they learned at school that day? Cartoons and characters are a great way to foster education through play and humor. Fictional characters with relatable, human-like qualities can create real-life connections for kids.

It Holds Their Attention

Even before the pandemic, the rise in smartphones and social media made it harder for teachers to hold students’ attention spans for a full day of learning. Games have the power to transform tedious tasks into engaging, pleasurable activities because they forget they are working and instead feel they are playing. As a result, kids are much more likely to pay attention and grow throughout the learning process.

Visuals are also an essential part of capturing attention. In developing some of our phonics and vocabulary products, we found that creating more visually stimulating educational materials could unlock a child’s love of words. That’s why we work with the artist behind the movie Madagascar to create mind-blowing characters and illustrations that children will love. The result is a modern, exciting learning experience that is faster-paced, more motivating, and simply fun.

It Motivates Them to Learn

When learning is fun, it doesn’t feel like a chore. Gamification triggers real emotions in learners that motivate them to engage with content authentically. Points systems, leaderboards, and badges are all great ways to foster a sense of healthy competition and create engagement while introducing goals and problem-solving into fun learning environments. And when students enjoy the learning process, it creates a genuine interest within them, rather than pressure from a teacher or parent.

For the Love of Reading

Mrs. Wordsmith books and games aim to foster a love of reading and help kids 4-13 learn language through beautiful illustrations, humor, relatable characters, and gameplay that makes learning fun. Created in partnership with the world’s most influential childhood literacy experts, our curriculum and teacher-approved books and games are backed by science and loved by all. Whether you’re teaching virtually, homeschooling your kids, or looking for more fun in the classroom, we want you to see for yourself!

For a limited time, Brightly readers can get 20% off Mrs. Wordsmith products. Visit and enter BRIGHTLY20 to redeem your credit until March 31, 2022.